To begin, I want to preface this by saying HELLO to everyone reading our blog. I know its been a long, LONG, time since I wrote here, but that should be changing here, starting with this article. It has been a busy 8-10 months for me, with moving not once, but twice, and the process of switching districts with my employer so that I am closer to home with my family. The holidays are here as well, so time will be a little constricting still, but with the kid and the girlfriend going on winter break from school (elementary and college, respectively), time will be a little more flexible. Its busy season for me at work, so I take every shot at overtime I can get to save money. Retail sucks, but luckily I don’t work for commission or tips so that helps. Anyway, lets get to the heart of the article, to see what I have been able to do with what free time I do have.

Magic: The Gathering

So almost three years ago, I got back into playing MtG. It had been a ten-hiatus for me. It was a struggle to get back to knowing the ins and outs of playing, the formats, the local metagame, etc. I am confident in saying that I am finally back to a level of play that I am comfortable with, and getting better. It helps that I found people to help teach me things that are not complete douche-nozzles. They are very good, don’t get me wrong, but they don’t take themselves so seriously and realize that they are playing a card game, not playing for their lives. I have met plenty of players that are insanely serious about their abilities, and learn every little rule, every loophole, and every way to dick someone over. They get mad and over-sensitive about things that do not matter in everyday life. Oops, I made a mistake about the mana I just tapped. Don’t be a dick and say “NO, you tapped it you live with it! You can’t take it back!” Sorry, I haven’t cast anything yet, give me a break, asshole.

Luckily, the ladies and gentlemen I play with at Astonishing Comics and Games in Sharonville, Ohio (a township here in Cincinnati) are a great bunch. Even the guys that run the shop, James (owner) and Adam, are incredibly helpful. This is also a great comic shop too, with a great collection and lots of memorabilia for the nerd fandom, including statues, figures, and board games galore! Astonishing is a great place to play, for the beginners to veteran players, and everyone in between. People don’t get looked down on because one doesn’t spend every waking minute talking and studying a collectible card game. They will sit there with you and talk about different strategies, decklists, the local metagame, or even stuff not even related to Magic. I fondly remember spending an hour watching goofy videos mashing Pokemon and King of The Hill and watching this guy Cameron playing the new Warcraft expansion. Save to say, it is a good place to kill that little free time you have.

Catching up on TV!

As a comic nerd, the sudden influx of comic book-inspired television series on television has caught my interest. Working all the time makes it hard to catch things when they air so I resort to things like Hulu, Netflix, and other (legal) sites to help me binge and catch up on things. From Arrow to Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to Gotham to Constantine, all spectrums of the genre are being represented, to varying degrees of success of course.

I’ve followed Arrow since the beginning, and it just keeps getting better. It has things that get annoying that every show like this does, from occasional villians-of-the-week that don’t get fleshed out, to some FX issues that come with the limited budget of every TV show, but those are minor tropes that I can forgive for the sake of the story that comes along with it. It continues to make Oliver Queen an interesting, multifaceted character, and also is helping build the mythos in the main DC Comics series. Along with a great ensemble supporting cast (Emily Bett Rickards is my constant Woman Crush Wednesday) and good story arcs, it’s a show I will continue to watch. The addition of characters like Roy Harper (played by Colton Hayes, who is continuing to grow as an actor), The League of Assassins (RA’S AL FUCKING GUL!), and The Suicide Squad, Arrow is an exciting place to be going into it’s mid-season finale.

The Flash has also been a surprising hit with both fans and critics alike. Glee veteran Grant Gustin was cast to portray Barry Allen in the two-part midseason finale of Arrow last season, and it came with great results, including getting his own series! Granted (haha, pun..) it was announced before the episode air that The CW had greenlit a Flash pilot, it helped to see that Gustin could hold his own in the role. Some fired-up, hardcore, comic nerds had plenty to complain about (Gustin having brown hair, Iris being African-American, etc.) but for the majority of viewers, Grant makes a great Allen. Little nods like John Wesley Shipp (the original Barry Allen from the 1990’s Flash TV show) portraying Barry’s dad, the impending “crisis” from the future that the mysterious Harrison Wells (portrayed fantastically by Tom Cavanaugh) is trying to prevent, and the possibility of the Speed Force, are all great things, both for fan-service and for possible story arcs further down the line. We’ve also seen the characters that will eventually be hero Vibe, and villain Killer Frost, join Barry’s “Team Flash” with interesting futures themselves. The Flash is a show I am starting to expect great things from.

Gotham is another pleasant surprise that I’m starting to salivate over. While many people thought it was a cheap way to get Batman back on TV, it is really an examination of James Gordon and Gotham City, and how these two entities become what they are by the time Batman shows his wings in Gotham City. It also plays more like a crime drama than a comic book TV show, and that’s what makes it so intriguing. Ben Mackenzie (The O.C.) portrays James Gordon, a war veteran returning to Gotham as a detective on the GCPD. He is partnered up with veteran Detective Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue), a surly drunk who is desensitized to the crime in Gotham City and would rather be on break than do his job. Over the course of the first 5-6 episodes, we see Gordon tangle with a who’s-who of the criminal underworld of Gotham, including Carmine Falcone, Boss Maroni, and others. Gotham also introduces us to early versions of many of Batman’s Rogues Gallery, including The Riddler/Edward Nygma, a forensic scientist for the GCPD who is obsessed with riddles (obviously); Selena Kyle/Catwoman, a teen who lives on the streets and in group homes who witnesses the murders of Thomas and Martha Wayne; and the man who would be The Penguin, Oswald Cobblepot. Of all of the characters mentioned, Cobblepot has been the most central figure to the early season over anyone else, besides Gordon. Because of the way he was cast and portrayed so far by Robin Lord Taylor (Accepted), many think his Cobblepot is a front, and that he is actually going to become the villain known as The Joker. Whether this is true or not remains to be seen, but it is an interesting idea none the less. Gotham is quickly becoming one of my go-to series, comic or otherwise.

I haven’t been able to watch the newest season episodes of Agents of SHIELD, nor anything from Constantine, but I will get to those eventually. I’ve heard good things about Agents, not so much from Constantine though, but they will be watched when I have time, in order to make my own judgements.

Video Games

I have plenty of video games to play, and in that retrospect, I don’t have anything really deep or interesting to talk about until I finish them. Currently playing Shadow of Mordor and Watch Dogs and going to start Dragon Age: Inquisition. Until I can put in a lot more time with them, I’ll get back to you.

Family Life

Family is very important to me. If I consider you a close friend, you are family to me. That said, I’ve been spending a lot of time with my immediate family, that being my girlfriend Kelly, her son Aiden, her parents, and my mom. We moved to a new part of town in July, and it’s been great. Quieter neighborhood, better school, closer commute (now anyways), and more saving of money. Kelly is going into her final semester of school for ASL Interpreting, Aiden is doing much better is school, and I am much happier at work, with a new crew, new faces, and much less drama. My mom also retired this past august, and she is feeling much better and I get to see her more often. Probably not as often as she likes due to the busy schedule I have, but we make do. I am able to see my friends more often now, and my stress level has tanked as of late, due to less stress with money, work, etc. Things are looking up and I can’t wait to see where it goes from here. I also have renewed purpose at work, with people who actually appreciate what I do for them, and tell me how much they appreciate it. It is a refreshing change. Even my store manager acknowledges my good actions, which is not something I’ve had in a long while.

I even have more time to write now, and that’s the most exciting part about all this!

I hope that you guys liked the article, and you will be seeing more soon! Until then, Peace!